Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Peter Drucker

Yesterday Lucas noted that Peter Drucker died at the age of 95. Drucker and I got to Claremont in 1971; he was a prof in the business school, and I was a grad student in government. I didn’t formally study with him. I studied with Jaffa. One great man was enough. But, I did attend many of his classes and got to know him a bit. He was a tremendous character. Very wise, amazingly learned, witty, tough, but never mean. He would chastize students (publicly) for being narrow, for misunderstanding the nature of education, for not understanding the difference between training (as in what schools of business normally do) and a liberal education, for not working hard enough, for not taking advantage of the opportunity they had. The first time I met him was over dinner, with two others (I think it was my second year in grad school). In preparation I read many of his books, and found them surprsingly interesting, but, of course, wasn’t yet persuaded that this was a serious person. And, being young and imprudent, over dinner I hastened to point out to him (you know, in that supercilious tone that grad students are prone to) that his books (especially something called, as I recollect, The Effective Executive) were nothing more than watered down Machiavelli. He was surprised that I was surprised, and readily admitted the fact and then quickly revealed that he knew a lot about Machievlli. Well, still in my arrogant mode, I pushed on and started pontificating about Frederick the Great’s book on Machiavelli (which I had just discovered and was sure no one else in the whole world ever heard of, never mind read), and to my surprise he had not only read it but had some very interesting thoughts about the book and Frederick. It was after this that I started to sit in on his classes. He was asked a question about the Vietnam War and its significance for America and the world; in a class that had nothing to do with the war, of course. He responded with a thirty minute discourse on the history (not excluding the art) of South East Asia, emphasizing China and Japan in the 17th and 18th centuries, never mentioned Vietnam, yet answered the question. It was wonderful. The student didn’t get it. But by then I did. Rest in Peace, good teacher.

Addition: Matt Peterson reminded me of this interview
that me, Arnn, and Masugi conducted with Drucker back in 1984. It’s pretty good.

Ramirez out at L.A. Times

A great cartoonist, our friend, fellow conservative, and gentleman, Michael Ramirez has been ousted from the L.A. Times. Ken Masugi has more.

Patton and Veteran’s Day

Rich Policz reflects on Veteran’s Day by noting that today is General Patton’s birthday. 

Peter Drucker Dies at Age 95

Pete Drucker, the "father of modern management," died today at the age of 95. May he rest in peace.

GWB talks back

Here’s the speech, called for here and anticipated here.

Here are the WaPo, NYT, and AP stories. Of the three, the WaPo report is the most adversarial, offering Ted Kennedy’s response and comments about the President’s falling approval ratings before actually reporting what he said.

If you want some further context for the debate, you can read Norman Podhoretz’s rehearsal of the prewar intelligence findings here.

And if you don’t have time to plow through all the links, here’s the core of the President’s response to his critics:

One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn’t support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq’s weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That’s why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)

Bill Kristol says that the President should--indeed, has to--keep up the good work: "If the American people really come to a settled belief that Bush lied us into war, his presidency will be over. He won’t have the basic level of trust needed to govern."

Religious higher ed: engagement vs. sanctuary?

Naomi Schaefer Riley writes--but not with much subtlety--about a dispute at Ave Maria School of Law regarding a possible relocation to southwest Florida, the site of Ave Maria University. It’s not that the lawyers prefer Michigan slush to Florida sunshine, but that Ave Maria Town is supposed to be set next to the university campus. The town, according to Tom Monaghan, the board of trustees chairman and principal bankroller of the undertaking, is intended to be a "family values" enclave, free of both pornography and the pill. (Whether that can actually be accomplished in the light of Florida real estate and commercial law, not to mention the demands of marketplace, remains to be seen.)

The controversy that seems to be animating the faculty and friends of the University and its law school is whether and to what extent a serious Catholic institution can engage with "the world" without being immersed in and surrounded by "the world." My first response as an outsider is that it ought to be possible to reach out to "the world" from a "sanctuary" that, in any event, is neither remote nor impermeable. In her book, Riley seemed to express some sympathy for this point of view, but in this article, she and her headline writer seem to side with the law school faculty member who ("hyperbolically," she concedes) described the plans for Ave Maria Town as a "Catholic Jonestown."

Riley’s WSJ commenters are generally sympathetic to the idea of Ave Maria Town. Here’s an example:

To call this proposed community a "Catholic Jonestown" and imply thereby that anyone who wished to live in a haven safe from pornography and moral corruption is a "kool-aid drinker" is so insulting and beyond the pale that the cover of recognizing it as "hyperbolic" becomes just dodge for excusing psuedo-sophistication and intolerance.

As I was thinking about this post, I just happened to be reading this book, by this man (no kool-aid drinker, he), and came across the following passage (p. 83):

Totally inclusive communication belongs alone to the communication of the kingdom of God, which God holds in reserve, while human communications, called to "partake of the divine nature," must first "flee from the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:4).

There surely is an interesting question here, but Riley regards it through the prism apparently characterized above all by simple-minded liberal pluralism. In her book, she seemed to celebrate "difference"; in this article, she seems to favor an oddly homogeneous pluralism that makes genuine difference difficult, if not impossible.

Update: Rick Garnett and Ann Althouse have more. Garnett sums up their view:

My own take -- which is consonant, I think, with Althouse’s -- is that (a) although it is not "creepy" to care about the enterprise of sustaining a distinctively and authentically Catholic law school, (b) it is big mistake to think that the enterprise is well served by retreating to a homogenous, planned community without an established, rich university environment. As Althouse puts it: "You can’t retreat and purify yourself. You have to become involved with the complexities of life, not shrink away from them."

Everyone seems to think that Ave Maria Town is the functional equivalent of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. Is there any evidence that faculty, for example, will be compelled to live in Ave Maria Town? (They had better be paid pretty high salaries, if that’s the case, since housing is expensive in the Naples area.) And they, of course, can’t be prevented from leaving the community to indulge in vices not permitted on the premises. From what I could tell, by the way, there’s no evidence that Monaghan won’t permit fine dining and alcohol--his concerns seem to be limited to pornography and birth control. Do lawyers really need such things to make their academic and professional lives run smoothely? If so, I may be in the wrong profession.

Pat Robertson’s latest verbal blunder

That’s the nicest way of putting this. Of course, the headline exaggerates what he said, but what he appears actually to have said is bad enough. To be clear: he didn’t quite say God would retaliate for what the Dover (PA) voters did this week, just that if something did happen, God might not listen to their prayers. First of all, this ignores the possibility that people of faith can reasonably disagree about what can and should be taught in public schools. The Bible says nothing about the First Amendment. Second, God is merciful, as well as just. Robertson seems not to consider that possibility. If anyone is committing a theological error here, it just might be Pat Robertson. He should shut up before he discredits every institution associated with him.

Update: Terry Mattingly says almost everything that needs to be said about Pat Robertson. Hat tip: Get Religion.

Ohio 2004

This is an interesting brief report on a documentary film on the 2004 election in Ohio. Although put together by a liberal, it seems good and shows how organized the GOP was. "The resulting film, which the co-directors are still polishing in hopes of getting it accepted by the Sundance Film Festival, shows Republican campaigners functioning like a well-oiled machine and Democrats looking incapable of ordering lunch, let alone organizing a major get-out-the-vote operation. These scenes, interspersed with interviews with top strategists for both the Bush and the Kerry campaigns - with the glaring exceptions of Karl Rove and Bob Shrum - by and large leave the impression that the Bush campaign was run by major-league professionals and the Kerry campaign by bush-league amateurs."

"Iron Lady" wins in Liberia

A woman got elected president of Liberia. She will be the first female head of state in Africa.

Dying papers

Newspapers are warned that they have no future without the internet. "

Tuesday’s elections

Andy Busch refvlects on the elections of Tuesday: " is premature to see in the election results the foreshadowing of an unstoppable Democratic tide. As in 2001, there were too few races nationally to draw clear conclusions. In any event, through American history, it is typical for the out-party to do well in odd-year elections." And this is Tom Bevan’s wrap on Tuesday; Robert Novak on Virginia.

White House combativeness

For evidence thereof (a good thing, I think), go here and here.

No Katrina vouchers?

Despite support from unusual places--like Ted Kennedy--education vouchers for Katrina victims didn’t make it out of committee in the House., even after it passed unanimously in the Senate. The culprits? House Democrats and four Republicans--Judy Biggert (Ill.); Todd Platts (Pa.); Randy Kuhl (N.Y.); and Bob Inglis (S.C.). Clint Bolick thinks that Biggert, Platts, and Kuhl were "doing the bidding" of the NEA.

Will the proposal be revived in the conference committee? Possible, but doubtful; we apparently have forgotten about all the families displaced by Katrina.

Hat tip: Katie Newmark.

McCain on Iraq

David White lauds John McCain’s speech (download the pdf at this site), delivered today at the American Enterprise Institute. Here’s a taste:

If we leave Iraq prematurely, the jihadists will interpret the withdrawal as their great victory against our great power. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe that America is weak, unwilling to suffer casualties in battle. They drew that lesson from Lebanon in the 1980s and Somalia in the 1990s, and today they have their sights set squarely on Iraq. The recently released letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s lieutenant, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, draws out the implications. The Zawahiri letter is predicated on the assumption that the United States will leave Iraq, and that al Qaeda’s real game begins as soon as we abandon the country. In his missive, Zawahiri lays out a four stage plan – establish a caliphate in Iraq, extend the “jihad wave” to the secular countries neighboring Iraq, clash with Israel – none of which shall commence until the completion of stage one: expel the Americans from Iraq. Zawahiri observes that the collapse of American power in Vietnam, “and how they ran and left their agents,” suggests that “we must be ready starting now.”

We can’t let them start, now or ever. We must stay in Iraq until the government there has a fully functioning security apparatus that can keep Zarqawi and his terrorists at bay, and ultimately defeat them. Some argue that it our very presence in Iraq that has created the insurgency, and that if we end the occupation, we end the insurgency. But in fact by ending military operations, we are likely to empower the insurgency. Zarqawi and others fight not just against foreign forces but also against the Shia, whom they believe to be infidels, and against all elements of the government. Sunni insurgents attack Kurds, Turcomans, Christians and other Iraqis, not
simply to end the American occupation but to recapture lost Sunni power. As AEI’s Fredrick Kagan has written, these Sunni are not yet persuaded that violence is counterproductive; on the contrary, they believe the insurgency might lead to an improvement in their political situation. There is no reason to think that an American drawdown would extinguish these motivations to fight.

Because we cannot pull out and hope for the best, because we cannot withdraw and manage things from afar, because morality and our security compel it, we have to see this mission through to completion.

It’s a good speech, White notes, and much needed in Washington, D.C., and around the country: "The maverick, it seems, is back. And this time, he’s ready to fight."

Unfortunately, if you read an account of the speech like this one or this one, you’ll get a much better sense of what McCain thinks is wrong with our current efforts than of why he thinks the effort is worth undertaking. As I noted here and here, the press’ hostility to the enterprise makes it very difficult to get the message through.

Marine Corps Birthday

Today is the 230th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

Semper fi.

Pew poll

Here’s the report on the most recent Pew poll. The good news for President Bush is that the Alito nomination is going over well. The bad news is that the drumbeat of negative press coverage is taking a toll, especially on Iraq and the Wilson/Plame/Libby affair: 43% say that President Bush lied about WMDs and 44% say that the Libby affair is "of great importance" to the nation. The two numbers track very closely and the former is up 12% since February, 2004. Republicans and the White House need to go on the offense about the run-up to the war. Stephen F. Hayes can’t do it all himself.

Does Big Government Make People Unhappy?

It certainly makes me unhappy, but is it possible that there’s a negative correlation between the size of a country’s government and the happiness of its citizens? The authors of this study seem to believe so. The good folks over at the Volokh Conspiracy are somewhat skeptical about the methodology, but find it interesting nonetheless.

Lawler on Catholic judges

Here’s a snippet:

The traditional Catholic view—and Alito, Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas in various ways are pretty traditional or orthodox Catholics—is that a person’s political opinions are not governed by revelation as much as by natural law. Natural law is the truth about the rational and social nature of human beings that we can know without revelation’s help. Evangelicals tend to believe that if it were not for the absolute truth of Biblical revelation, something like the libertarian understanding of the absolutely autonomous individual (the being described by Barnett and by the Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Lawrence v. Texas) would describe our lives. The Catholic view is that a consistent individualism is not an adequate account of who we are as natural beings, and so the limits to liberty understood as autonomy can be realized whether or not one believes in the Biblical God. We don’t need to be Christians—either Catholic or evangelical—to see that abortion is wrong.

Catholics are much better than evangelicals in connecting their faith-based perceptions to general-audience arguments on the purpose and limits of Constitutional law. That’s not to say that Catholic justices would use “natural law” to declare statutes and policies un-Constitutional without showing clearly how that law is actually embodied in the text of the Constitution itself. The point is more that those who see natural law as true are more likely to see efforts to understand the judicial power in a radically individualistic and activist way as at war with the way human beings really are.

I think he’s right about "run-of-the-mill" evangelicalism, which is sort of happily voluntaristic, but not about its neo-Calvinist strain, which talks a lot about
"common grace." As with everything Peter writes, it’s pithy and illuminating.  

France and America

Anne Applebaum counsels against schadenfreude in thinking about Frances’s problems, but suggests that the French should take the advice and admonitions they so, er, generously gave us in the aftermath of Katrina.

Religion and politics in Virginia

E.J. Dionne, Jr. might be onto something here, though I’d want to hear Lucas Morel’s take on it:

Democrats all over the country will study how this devout Catholic explained his opposition to the death penalty as a matter of deep religious concern. The strangest thing is that because the death penalty issue encouraged Kaine to talk about his faith, it may have helped him with conservative voters.

"This is a very good proving ground for the belief that Democrats can talk about values and their faith and it will make a difference," said Karl Struble, a top Kaine adviser.

David Eichenbaum, another Kaine adviser, noted how faith immunized Kaine from the dreaded L-word. Focus groups were shown "the worst attacks against Tim that they would use to make him into a big bad liberal." The groups were then shown footage of Kaine "talking about the importance to him of his religious values and convictions." The result? "Almost to a person, they would say that he must be a moderate or a conservative, and that he couldn’t be a liberal."

I have two thoughts. First, everyone liked Joe Lieberman’s faith, and look how far it got him in the Democratic primaries. Times have changed a little, but have they changed that much for the Democratic primary electorate? Second, I’d want to know what Kaine said about abortion. If his position on abortion lined up with his opposition to the death penalty--following what the Catholic bishops have called the "seamless garment" approach--then I’d give him points for sincerity, but wonder about how well that position would fare in the presidential primaries. And if his opposition to the death penalty is "faith-based," but he doesn’t oppose abortion, I’m not sure he should have gotten the kind of pass Dionne says he got from the voters.

Stated another way, while abortion isn’t and shouldn’t be a litmus test, how seriously a candidate grapples with it and how willing he or she is to take on the NARAL wing of the Democratic Party ought to tell voters something about how sincere or stategic the talk about religion is.

Arnold’s California Dreamin’

The only thing that genuinely surprised me about the defeat of all the ballot initiatives in California yesterday was the defeat of the parental notification on abortions for minors proposition (73) which was only half-heartedly supported by Arnold. I thought the common sense of the thing AND the fact that Arnold was not out in front of the issue gave it at least some chance of passing. It failed--though not by much and considering the low voter turn-out, it might have passed in a more interesting election cycle.

Fellow Native Ohioan turned Californian, Hugh Hewitt has a wonderful open letter to "The Govinator" which, in sum, explains that Arnold’s failure was really a failure of so-called "moderate" Republicanism. It is the failure that should be expected when Republicans think they can march into office and practice the politics of "let’s get along" and distance themselves from their conservative base. It is naivete. Great quote: " . . . you have now run into the reality of California politics. The folks who don’t care much about politics, well, they really don’t care much about politics. They certainly can’t get you wins on their own. There aren’t enough of them." Arnold needs to surround himself with more reliable conservatives and start taking their advice. Probably wouldn’t be bad advice for the White House either. Read the whole thing. Worth a mug.

A new Republican agenda?

Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam think big for Republicans, taking as their point of departure the fact that a substantial portion of the party’s constituency is not affluent. It’s a long article, replete with wonky policy ideas, but Michael Barone calls it "brilliant," which is good enough for me and ought to be good enough for you, dear reader. Here’s a sample of their bold thinking on family policy, focusing on the effort to help parents exit and enter the workforce as they raise children:

For instance, the government could offer subsidies to those who provide child care in the home, and pension credits that reflect the economic value of years spent in household labor. Or again, Republicans might consider offering tuition credits for years spent rearing children, which could be exchanged for post-graduate or vocational education. These would be modeled on veterans’ benefits--and that would be entirely appropriate. Both military service and parenthood are crucial to the country’s long-term survival. It’s about time we recognize that fact.

Such a recognition, not incidentally, would be a recipe for continued GOP political dominance. Married couples are already the most reliable Republican voters. Policies making it easier to get married, stay married, and have more children would cement these voters’ loyalties, and they would also draw wavering, culturally-conservative-but-economically-anxious voters into the Republican fold. The party of James Dobson isn’t going to win back wealthy social liberals any time soon. But a pro-family economic agenda might make inroads among, say, upwardly mobile minorities, or working-class whites in increasingly up-for-grabs states like Minnesota and Iowa.

Read the whole thing.

Elections 2005: what do they mean?

Michael Barone (who else?) tells you more than you ever wanted to know about Virginia (and promises more about other states later). Here’s his very tentative bottom line:

[T]he Virginia and New Jersey results show state electorates pretty much where they were in 2001. You could argue that means the Bush and Republican turnout and percentage increases of 2004 have disappeared. But that would still leave us as the 49 percent nation we were in 2000—and not a nation that is swinging as heavily to the Democrats as it did to the Republicans in 1993-94.

There is, of course, much more here, all of it worth reading. Hat tip:
Ken Blanchard of South Dakota Politics.

Update: Here’s Barone on New Jersey.

Alito and the GWOT

Tom Cerber calls our attention to this account of a course on "Terrorism and Civil Liberties" Judge Alito taught at Seton Hall. It sounds like he taught it well, in that he asked hard questions and didn’t offer easy answers. While the Volokhians are doubtful that we can learn anything about his substantive judgments from his course, performances like this make it harder to paint him as an ideologue.

State Issues in Ohio

As I predicted, State Issues 2-5 were soundly defeated, though I was wrong about the percentages—instead of losing 40-60, they all received "no" votes between 63-70%. The voters of our fine state showed their wisdom once again. The Secretary of State’s website has complete results. In the county-by-county breakdown, it is worth noting that the issues were defeated even more soundly in Ashland County, most in excess of 80% "no" votes. I love this place.

In other elections news, Cleveland has a new mayor, Democrats maintained their hold on governorships in Virginia and New Jersey, Schwarzenegger’s ballot initiatives failed, and Republican Michael Bloomberg was reelected as mayor of New York.

Europe’s "regressive" future?

Wilfred McClay speculates that there will be an extremely ugly populist backlash against the French rioters, with Sarkozy swept aside by someone more like Jean Marie Le Pen:

It will come as a surprise because such Americans falsely and simplistically see the countries of Western Europe as gigantic blue states. But the survey data do not bear this out. Yes, “blue state” values are far more predominant in the nations of Western Europe, especially France. But none of these nations is culturally monolithic, and the divisions that we now see burning on our TV screens are not the only ones. There are others, too, that may be on the verge of emerging into fuller view.

Read the whole thing.

Acting like parents when our kids are in school

My latest op-ed, on Fields v. Palmdale School District, the 9th Circuit opinion on parental rights, is here.

Update: Rob Vischer comments over at Mirror of Justice.

France: Intifada or Watts?

Intifada or Watts?? asks Wretchard. Good stuff, keep clicking down.

Ohio voting

The polls at 7:30 in Ohio. The official results (especially interesting will be Propositions 2-5) will be found at the Secreteray of State’s site, just click on "polls" above. Just for the heck of it, I predict that the "no" votes will take it circa 60-40%.

Paris riots continue, day 12

The 12th day of violence.
"Nationwide, vandals burned 1,173 cars overnight compared with 1,408 vehicles a night earlier, police said. A total of 330 people were arrested, down from 395 the night before." I guess this is progress. A "state of emergency" is in place now. No Pasaran thinks that the French media is downplaying the rioting.

Democratic ownership and empowerment

E.J. Dionne, Jr. thinks that Democrats should offer voters something other than "focus-group-driven sloganeering and mush." He points to the current issue of the Washington Monthly, which includes this article by editor Paul Glastris.

Here’s Glastris’ analysis of why several of President Bush’s ownership and empowerment initiatives haven’t be popular:

Americans love the idea of choice—in the abstract. But when faced with the actual choices conservatives present, they aren’t buying. The reason is that conservatives have constructed choices that fail to take human nature into account. People like to have choices but feel quickly overwhelmed when they lack the information or expertise to decide confidently, and they turn downright negative when the choices themselves seem to put what they already have at risk. Conservatives were bound to make these mistakes because their very aim has been to transfer more risks from government to individuals so that government’s size and expenditures can be cut. That’s not a bargain most Americans will accept. They like choice just fine, but they won’t trade security to get it.

There’s much of interest in the article, focusing on our allegedly natural responses to complexity and risk, responses that seem more prevalent in older Americans than in their younger counterparts. Glastris’ big idea is using government to structure the choices we would like to have--"libertarian paternalism" he calls it, following Cass Sunstein, among others.

If the Democrats are going to revive their political fortunes in the long term, it will because they pay attention to ideas like this. It would require that they beat back or "re-educate" certain of their constituencies, which may or may not happen. But Republicans would do well to pay attention, since they can’t simply expect or hope that Democrats will remain politically self-destructive indefinitely.

Guelzo Appointed to National Council on the Humanities

President Bush has named Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College to the National Council for the Humanities, along with Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago and former Under Secretary for Education Eugene W. Hickock. The NCH, which consists of 26 scholars, artists, writers, and composers, serves as an advisory board to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Professor Guelzo, some of you may recall, spoke at the Ashbrook Center last February. His latest book, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, won the Lincoln Prize this past spring.

Addition: Eugene Hickock also spoke at the Ashrbook Center, in 2001.

The Riots of Ramadan and the revolutionary moment in Europe

The rioting is continuing and has spread to 300 towns, including Belgium and Germany. One death is reported. Chirac tries to conciliate. See ABC News, Reuters,
and AP.

John von Heyking has started reflecting on all of this. This longish essay is very valuable because it takes you immediately into both the cause and the meaning of the violence, and why France (Europe) can’t defend itself. John thinks that "France’s Algerian and Islamist powder keg has exploded and the situation and the regime’s response illuminate some of the deepest fault lines of the modern age." He uses de Tocqueville to explain why the French paternal state can’t integrate the third generation immigrant. De Villepin is cast aside, and Sarkozy doesn’t fare much better. Interesting. Pay attention, this is good stuff.

Heritage Guide to the Constitution

The Heritage Guide to the Constitution just landed on my desk. Edited by Matthew Spalding and David Forte (the Advisory Board was chaired by Ed Meese), it brings together more than 100 of the nation’s best legal experts to provide the first ever line-by-line examination of the framers’ Constitution and its contemporary meaning. That bit about the nation’s best legal experts is a bit of a stretcher since folks like me, Jeff Sikkenga, Mac Owens, John Eastman wrote for it. But then so did Charles Kesler, R.J. Pestritto, John Yoo, Forrest McDonald, Ralph Rossum, Eugene Volokh, Brad Smith, Herman Belz, et al. You get the point. Good book. Get it, and buy one for your library.

Come home, GWB!

William Kristol explains how politically costly the attempt to put social security reform at the center of the Administration’s second term agenda has been. His advice about a comeback is here:

Keeping Rove; being unapologetic about the war; explaining why Saddam had to be removed, that there were terror ties between Saddam and al Qaeda, and why the war needs to be seen through to victory; fighting for Alito, and other well-qualified conservative judges at the appellate level; advancing pro-growth, pro-family tax reforms--this agenda won’t enamor Bush to liberals. But it could lay the groundwork for a Bush comeback. The alternative is three long years of ducking, dodging--and defeat.

Paris, Nantes, Toulouse, Strasbourg, and more

According to the USA Today yesterday’s violence was the worst to date: more than 30 police were injured (10 hit by gunfire) and 1,400 cars burned across the country, and 395 people were arrested. Note this: "Almost 1,000 cars were targeted in towns and cities outside Paris, underscoring how violence has spread from its original flashpoint." France’s police chief warned that a shock wave is spreading across the country. The New York Times reports that the police seemed powerless to stop "the mayhem." Were some cars also torched in Berlin? (via No Pasaran.)

SCOTUS Catholics again

The WaPo’s Alan Cooperman (who is generally scrupulous in his coverage of religion and politics) offers a very good account of Catholic intellectual traditions and legal education in his treatment of the incipient Catholic majority on the Court, about which I posted here.. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever see the words "natural law" in the Post, or in any other newspaper.

Update: Ken Masugi has more, as do the folks at Mirror of Justice.

Jimmy’s Greatest Hits

My previous post about Jimmy Carter provoked a medium-length discussion thread. So here’s my favorite sentence from his new book:

[Rosalyn and I] have been amazed at the response of people to these new latrines, especially in Ethiopia, and to learn that the primary thrust for building them has come from women.

Supply your own punchline.

Words unlimited

This book review (which Arts and Letters Daily brought to my attention) by John Derbyshire of Nicholas Ostler’s Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World reminds me to tell you that Ostler’s book is indeed very interesting and useful, even for a layman. Take a look at it.

He thinks Sanskrit is an especially interesting language that has, somehow from the start, encouraged its users and grammarians to have disputations about grammar. This "provided a natural forum for intellectual exercise and argument" that, somehow, appealed to "abstract principle." So, Ostler argues, while Sanskrit based civilization treasures its epics and literary classics, its culture does not revolve around them (as does Greek, for example). "Nor does its philosophy emphasize socially useful theories, such as politics, ethics or the art of persuasion. Rather it theorizes about states of being and modes of perception. There is a certain sense in which Sanskrit theory fails to connect with the practical world."

Lincoln and his Cabinet of rivals

James McPherson reviews Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln for the New York Times, and Allen Guelzo reviews the same for the Washington Post. Both like the book, it is "immense," "elegant," "incisive," and admit that Goodwin’s narrative powers are great. I’m reading it now, and I think that Guelzo’s comment is near the mark:
"But this immense, finely boned book is no dull administrative or bureaucratic history; rather, it is a story of personalities -- a messianic drama, if you will -- in which Lincoln must increase and the others must decrease." It is well written and takes hundreds of pages (the book is almost a thousand pages long) to tell the personal stories of the four great rivals (Lincoln, Chase, Seward, Bates) for the presidency in 1860. The rest of the book is a very well crafted (Guelzo calls her a "popular" historian) story of Lincoln’s cat herding, or his prudent political management, as you please. (I like Guelzo’s comment, en pasant, that Salmon P. Chase was the John McCain of mid-century Republicanism! Chase was the only Cabinet member who never quite admited to Lincoln’s greatness). The book will be on the best-seller list soon enough, and that’s fine. The worse thing about it is that then I will have to put up with seeing more of "Dorin Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian," all over the TV talk shows for months. Her writing is much better than her voice. Yet, her topic with this book is much grander than all the others she has written, or plagiarized, as you please.

The Fall of France?

I’m no longer counting the number of nights this rioting has gone on in France. The numbers no longer matter. The point has been made. It can go on for as many nights as they want, and it can go on anywhere in France. Talk has it that it can erupt anywhere in Europe, at any time, and, to repeat myself, last as long as the rioters want it to last. This needs to be said just to make the point about who really has control.

Bellmont Club has both sound thoughts on what’s going on in France, and some good links. For example, he links to Paul Belien, who explains the Ottoman Empire’s "millet" system, what that has to do with the current predicament of France, and to the fact that Sarkozy (being a child of immigrant parents) is the only one that understand all this. I’m tempted to quote the whole 600 word essay, entitled "The Fall of France," but just click on his name.

Here is a long article that Belien links to on Sarkozy by Marc Perelman, from the July, 2005, issue of Foreign Policy. But David Warren is not impressed by either de Villepin or Sarkozy. He prefers to understand the turmoil very clearly in the light of Charles Martel’s victory at
Tours in 732.


readership continues to decline. Maybe everyone’s blood pressure is up. Ronald Reagan said this in 1987: "My doctors told me this morning my blood pressure is down so low that I can start reading the newspapers."

Steyn on French riots

Unlike the author of this WaPo article, noted by Peter below, the incomparable Mark Steyn doesn’t think that the riots are simply a demand for recognition, a la Frantz Fanon. Here’s his bottom line:

French cynics like the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, have spent the last two years scoffing at the Bush Doctrine: Why, everyone knows Islam and democracy are incompatible. If so, that’s less a problem for Iraq or Afghanistan than for France and Belgium.

Read the whole thing, but also think about this line from the WaPo article:

"We don’t have the American dream here," said Rezzoug, as he surveyed the clusters of young men. "We don’t even have the French dream here."

Clarity in WaPo op-ed pages

Thanks to the the Power Liners. Here’s a taste:

It is activist to import something into the Constitution that is not written there, based on one’s own policy preferences. It is not activist to apply and enforce the Constitution as it is written. That, on the contrary, is the duty of every state and federal judge.

Read the whole thing.

Broder on politics in Ohio

WaPo political columnist David Broder has been interviewing Ohioans. No one, except a few Democratic partisans, cares about the Libby indictment. No one wants to try to sort out who’s responsible for the post-Katrina suffering. It’s all about the war:

But the war is something else. The Republican friend, who is a true Bush loyalist, said he feared that Iraq is splitting this country in a fashion all too familiar from the days of the Vietnam War.

"The opponents of the war are increasingly vocal," he said, "and they want the troops out now, and to hell with the consequences."

But, he said, "I’m also hearing more voices on the other side saying: Let’s go in with guns blazing and win this thing, once and for all, so we can get out. People are saying, ’We’ve got to tell the Sunnis to clean out the insurgents -- or else.’ I’ve heard people say we ought to surround those Sunni villages where the fighters are hiding, give them 24 hours to get out and then level every building, so they can’t come back."

"What people can’t stand," he said, "is this unending story of two or three more Americans dying every day -- and nothing to show that the end is in sight."

Of course, Broder never suggests that shoddy, adversarial press coverage (there are, of course a few exceptions) is in large measure responsible for this version of the dominant Iraq storyline. Different press coverage (and I don’t mean cheerleading) would give a picture of the situation in Iraq more conducive to patience and perseverance.

Broder concedes that if in the next year GWB can resolve the Iraq situation in a way satisfactory to the press, "all the other issues confronting the administration at home and abroad probably become manageable."